I’ve got pretty average hand writing, very, it’s a cross between printing and running writing that just looks wrong on the paper at the best of times. So you could well imagine the difficulty I’ve had trying to decipher my tasting notes after I had spent the day chatting with 30 something winemakers, all with about ten different wines to try. It’s become more hieroglyphics than handwriting, I’m somewhat positive that there’s a line there that mentions “the latex not breathing too well in the heat”, at least that’s what it looks like I’ve written, and anyone who has even seen me will tell you that I’m not built to look good in latex.
I have managed however to work out that there is a significant amount of furious scribbling on the Dandelion Vineyards and Heirloom Vineyards pages of my book from the day. In fact there was so much scribbling that I could only take it as a good thing, went out and grabbed a few bottles this week to try, and am quite glad I did.
Bulgarian born and raised Elena Brooks is the winemaker responsible for the two brands. She moved to Australia in 1998 to study winemaking at Adelaide University, graduating in 2001, became an Australian citizen in 2006, and married Australian wine marketing guru Zar Brooks in 2007 after meeting him at the 2000 Adelaide Wine Show. Together the pair are partners in Cien Y Pico wines in Spain with Nicola Tucci of Italy and Luis Garcia of Spain, are also partners in the Langhorne Creek Zonte’s Footsteps, where Ben Riggs is the winemaker, and have a forty percent share of Dandelion Vineyards with Peggy and Carl Lindner (40%) and Fiona and Brad Rey (20%), with the Lindner’s and Rey’s string of vineyards that supply the fruit that is used to create Dandelion.
However Heirloom Vineyards is owned purely the Brooks’, with their web-site spruiking pretty lofty ambitions of wanting to “preserve the best of tradition, the old world of wine and our unique old vineyards and to champion the best clones of each variety planted in the most appropriate sites embracing the principals of organic and biodynamic farming”.
There’s probably a fair bit of marketing spin in there, but their wines show they are trying to hit those ambitions. Elena’s results has shown that she has quite a bit of nous when it comes to this winemaking gig. Her choice of fruit, often handpicked at high expense, and techniques minimal fining and filtration, is producing quality drops. It’s also worth noting that she’s willing to go out on a limb with some quirky blending and co-fermenting of grape varieties, like the Dandelion Vineyards Lions Tooth, an unusual blend of Shiraz and Riesling. These current releases are all single vineyard wines with the details of each vineyard, and why it was chosen readily available.
Heirloom, and Dandelion for that fact, are travelling a road less travelled, taking an out of the ordinary approach, with the resulting wines being fantastic drops at pretty good prices.
A few to try:
Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz – even though the ’15 is the current release, it’s the ’14 that’s on the shelves at the bottleshops. Shows black plums with charcoal, and crushed black pepper, lots of dark fruit flavour and earthy notes. Expressive savoury spices on the long finish. About $25
Dandelion Vineyards Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling – at about $60 it’s not something that you will be drinking a lot of, however it is significantly cheaper online. The fruit is handpicked from 105year old vines, whole bunch pressed, cool fermented and bottled without being fined or filtered, which gives more texture and character to a wine with remarkable depth of flavour; lime, apple and spice and plenty of stony minerals to it. Fantastic wine.
Heirloom Vineyards Adelaide Hills Chardonnay – organic and bio-dynamic fruit, handpicked and sorted to produce an elegant and well-made chardy showing fleshy stone fruits, some buttery pastry notes, white peach and nectarine, rock melon, the judicious use of oak gives a great creamy texture. About $30
Heirloom Vineyards Adelaide Hills Tempranillo – Temp is getting a real run on lately with Oz wine makers, if we can keep knocking out quality examples like this, we will end up giving the Spanish a run for their money. Fragrant and supple, bright red cherry, with darker cherry notes sweeping along. Silky slippery tannin structure makes this just so easy to drink.